This one really surprised me! I feel like I’ve tried it a few times and I’m not sure why I stopped reading it then, because it’s pretty fast-paced from beginning to end. It’s a creative take on the dystopian genre in the sense that the male/female division is one I haven’t seen done elsewhere. I also appreciate that it was equal opportunity: on one side of the dividing river is Matrus, in which women are in charge and men are subjugated to their rule, and on the other is Patrus, in which the opposite is true. Violet finds herself caught in between in a sense, because while she is Matrian, she has a little brother whom she loves, and she knows he’d have no kind of life in Matrus. She tries to smuggle him to Patrus when he’s eight, but he gets captured and taken from her. She, in turn, finds herself a criminal delinquent as a teen, with a penchant for violence and an anger problem. But when she accidentally kills her second a female attacker–a crime which all but requires her death–she is offered an intriguing proposition: die for her crimes now, or cross over to Patrus, marry their contact, and with him attempt to steal a mysterious egg which Patrus originally stole from Matrus. The mission will mean almost certain death… but if she succeeds, Matrus promises her a reunion with her brother. It’s a no-brainer, of course, and Violet accepts.
I expected that Lee, her Patrian “husband,” would become the love interest–but I should have known from his name alone that he wouldn’t be. (No YA male lead would have a boring name like “Lee Bertrand.”) Enter Viggo Croft: handsome, disgruntled against Patrian society for his own reasons, and earning his living as a warden (essentially a police officer) by day and a prize fighter by night. He’s to be Lee and Violet’s scapegoat: they have to pin the theft of the egg on someone, and he’s the perfect choice. In order to accomplish this, they need to be able to control where he is and when–which will require gaining his trust. That’s Violet’s job, of course… but you can imagine how complicated that gets along the way.
I raced through to the end. Totally worth the read, even as a stand-alone!
My rating: **** 1/2